So, why do we celebrate St. Patrick? What did he do to have a holiday named after him? It is about green beer and little men? Did he chase all the snakes out of Ireland? Did he find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow? Not really. There is SO much more behind a man that lived and died over 1,500 years ago!
As promised, here are the answers to the quiz posted earlier this week:
1.) St. Patricks Day, historically, includes which of the following: (answers in bold)
- Green Beer
- Pots of Gold
- Maewyn Susscat
- God of the Bible
- Salvin McDowell
- Roman Empire
2.) True or false: TRUE
St. Patrick was not officially endorsed as a "saint" by the Catholic Church.
3.) True or false: TRUE
St. Patrick was kidnapped by pirates.
4.) True or false: FALSE
St. Patrick's real name is Salvin McDowell.
5.) True or false: TRUE
St. Patrick was known to pray over 100 times a day.
6.) True or false: TRUE
St. Patrick lived during the Roman Empire.
History of St. Patrick
Maewyn Susscat, better known today as St. Patrick, was born in Scotland around 360 A.D. during the time of the Roman Empire. When he was sixteen years old he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and sold as a slave in Ireland. While spending months tending sheep and pigs, isolated from other humans, he cried out to God. He remembered all he had been taught about the God of the Bible. He confessed his wrongs to God, believed in Jesus and asked God to forgive him.
During his six years as a slave, he grew close to God. He even documented praying over 100 times a day and almost as many times through the night. He wrote many songs, prayers and sermons. One night he had a dream that God was telling him to escape and return home. So he did. He fled that night and walked for 200 miles to reach the shore or Ireland.
When he arrived at the coast, he begged a captain to let him board, promising that his family would pay once he was home. The captain refused. Maewyn began to pray fervently. While he was praying a crewman came up to him and said that the captain had changed his mind. Maeywn climbed aboard and the ship set sail!
After three days the ship landed. They saw no people and no houses. They had gone astray in the voyage. For a month they journeyed, trying to find out where they were and how to get home. They were weary, out of food and lost. The captain, who had ridiculed Maewyn for his faith in God, mockingly asked Maewyn to pray to his "all-powerful God" for food. And Maewyn did. Moments after Maewyn finished his prayer, a herd of pigs appeared. God had answered his prayers. The captain believed in God and they had a feast!
They walked for several more days before finding civilization. They were each directed to their homeland and parted ways. Before Maewyn returned to Scotland, he spent time under the teaching of Bishop Germanus of Auxerre. While a slave, he had craved to read God's Word, the Bible, for himself. He spent several months studying the Bible and memorizing large portions. Then he went home.
Many years passed. One night he had a dream. He dreamed the people of Ireland were asking him to come back and tell them about God. Maewyn knew that if he went back he would be risking his life. But, he obeyed God's call and went back to Ireland. He preached the salvation of Jesus Christ, freedom from sin and heaven as the hope. He used the rainbow to remind people of God's faithfulness and the shamrock to teach people of the Trinity. He baptized tens of thousands of people who believed in Jesus and established hundreds of churches throughout Ireland. He lived there for 30 years, was given the name "Patrick" and served the Irish faithfully until he died. He died in his mid-seventies on March 17th.
In one century the pagan land of Ireland became predominately Christian. Such vigorous faith grew that Ireland in turn sent out missionaries to Scotland, England, France, Germany, and Belgium. The land which once enslaved him, he had set free.
As an old man, Patrick looked back in awe:
"Those who never had a knowledge of God but worshipped idols and things impure, have now become a people of the Lord, sons of God."
There are numberous other things that could be said about this great man of God. He was humble, referring to himself as "the sinner". He was bold. He was passionate. He loved God.
Without St. Patrick's obedience to God and his love for Jesus Christ, we would have no holiday today. There would be no parades. There would be no pinching. There would be no corned beef. Let us all remember to celebrate today for the right reasons- God's love for the people of Ireland and Maewyn Susscat's love for God!